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Utah product Kim Tessen 'clutch' in Red Rocks win

SALT LAKE CITY — It really isn’t a secret that Utah sophomore Kim Tessen will be a key ingredient to the Red Rocks’ success this season. But in case anyone had forgotten this fact, Tessen was there to remind them Friday as No. 2 Utah rolled by No. 25 Oregon State 197.45-196.3.

Tessen carried the same hype a year ago when she came out red-hot in her debut season. The local product out of Orem, Utah, was hitting big scores on both vault and bars and had just added floor to her slate when catastrophe struck. She sat out the final 11 meets with an Achilles tear.

Fast forward a year, and Tessen seems to be on fire again. She’s not fully back to three events, but her 9.9 Friday was a boost to the middle of Utah’s vault lineup. The big score also set up her teammates MaKenna Merrell-Giles and MyKayla Skinner to go even bigger. And they did with 9.95s en route to Utah’s best vault set of the year (49.475).

“The back of that lineup to drop three 9.9s (well three scores 9.9 or higher) in a row —and for Kim to start it off— she’s doing a good job,” said Utah coach Tom Farden. “I thought tonight was her best night for the two events she’s competing for us.”

Tessen’s other big effort came on bars, where Utah had a couple of unusual hiccups. She recorded a 9.85 after Missy Reinstadtler settled for a 9.7 and Kari Lee came in with a 9.35. Farden called the effort “clutch.”

“I didn’t really know about Kari’s score because I always try to walk away and take a breath before I go,” said Tessen. “I just remind myself to ‘take my time and trust my swing’.”

Her approach worked out well as both of her scores tied her career bests.

“I think this year is going well, but the Achilles is such a major injury to come back from,” said Tessen. ”I have a beam routine ready whenever the opportunity comes, but floor is out of the picture for now.”

Tessen admits she's hoping for more events over time but is perfectly happy competing in two while cheering on her teammates in the other two for now.